As organizations move their critical business functions online, a key to pulling together information in many different formats from many different databases and applications is the effective use of a portal. The Web portals enduring value has moved far beyond merely facilitating information to delivering services that connect people to content via integrated applications. One click of a mouse can now set off a whole series of activities, from authentication to credit checking to order processing to shipment-masses of transactions that are driven through the end-to-end e-business world.

For example, an insurance underwriter using a portal-based system can have all her key applications (company cases, manuals, claims forms, image files, etc.) available in one place. Pulling together relevant information and making it easily accessible gives her a full picture of policy coverage and claims history instantaneously. All of the time and effort she previously put into searching for the appropriate information and people she can now use to focus on her work. Major improvements in portal technology in the last 24 months, including integration software that links a portals users to an enterprises digital assets, give users a single, personalized point of access to multiple types of information from any device, wired or wireless. These advancements meet one of the primary goals of companies doing business on the Web-making relevant information easily accessible to employees, business partners and customers, while driving profits in the process.

  • Personalized delivery of content : Giving people the ability to search for and have access to digital information (including images, audio and video) and applications specific to their functions.
  • Collaboration services : Including instant messaging, discussion areas, group calendars, task tracking and shared document libraries with check-in/check-out services.
  • Integrated applications : Bringing together enterprise applications, digitized content, Web sites, e-mail, workflow integration, extensive search capabilities, and more.

  • A critical component for a portal strategy is an infrastructure that can support broad information integration for the enterprise portal, relational databases, business intelligence, and enterprise content management applications. For developers, it should enable rapid portal application development and deployment. With a single, solid infrastructure, portal creation and administration are unified across the enterprise, which lowers deployment and maintenance costs.

    Communities of practice : The development of the Web has allowed for the creation of online communities. Communities may be defined as the set of people who occupy a given structural location in an institution or society most communities engage in some degree of collective cognition-the interactions through which they learn from one anothers experiences, set common strategies, develop a shared vocabulary, and evolve a distinctive way of thinking. These interactions might take place through war stories, newsletters, rumours, speeches, philosophical tracts, music videos, management consultants, or bards who travel from place to place bearing news.The web takes this notion a step further enabling people to congregate in virtual places and develop new ways of sharing their common interests and pursuits, thereby forming or participating in a community of practice.